LaSalle reacts

There is no toxic waste in LaSalle”

By Tracey Arial

The borough of LaSalle reacted quickly to reassure citizens that “there is no toxic waste in LaSalle.”

In a letter sent two days after our article appeared, Pierre Dupuis, the LaSalle borough’s communications director and clerk wrote: “Toxic waste is what you find in the numerous containers full of PCBs in Pointe Claire, and that will eventually be incinerated in Alberta. What is safely contained since 1990 in the cells at Cintec in LaSalle is the contaminated earth from the land rehabilitation of two sites in LaSalle at the end of the 1980’s. This information is pretty easy to find and to verify.”

The borough also translated a letter to Mayor Manon Barbe from Hélène Proteau who works at the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP). It says in part:

“The entire CEI cell is subject to the Regulation respecting the burial of contaminated soils, which came into effect in 2001. The operator of a contaminated soil burial site must comply with the applicable requirements and, more specifically, with the Regulation’s Division III, entitled OPERATION. Inspections are carried out at this site by the Centre de Contrôle environnemental du Québec. According to our register, no failures to comply with the Regulation were sent to Cintec Environnement inc. in the past five years.”

But there may be a problem of semantics here. A public database at Quebec’s environment ministry shows several sites in LaSalle on which there is hazardous waste that can harm human health.

The Commission for Environment Cooperation’s Taking Stock database also shows several LaSalle companies emitting or transferring carcinogenic toxins. The Solutia site is listed on both databases. Montreal is negotiating with the owners to buy the site, but it still has yet to determine whether the owner or taxpayers will pay for the cleanup.

None of the documents Dupuis sent includes an inventory of contaminants on any of the three properties cited in our article last week.

Neither Dupuis, nor Proteau mention in their letters what the soil in the landfill at Cintec contains. Serge Gariépy, the executive director, says his inventory isn’t yet public, but he does turn it in to the ministry annually.

He said he believes it will be made public in a year or so after the facility closes. He did, however, spend some time explaining how he operates. He also assured us that no emissions are released from his property. We’ll be describing his operations in detail in an article next week.

Proteau’s letter also doesn’t describe a database of current and former contaminated property the ministry maintains, perhaps because it doesn’t include landfills. To see it, click on the ministry website.”

The database under the title terrains contaminé lists 1,636 contaminated sites in Montreal that were or are being cleaned up. Of the 63 sites listed in LaSalle, 37 have been cleaned up so far.

The Solutia site appears on this list as the most severely contaminated.

According to the database, the groundwater at the Solutia site contains benzene, ethylbenzene, fluoranthene, formaldehyde, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and petroleum hydrocarbons C10 to C50. The soil is contaminated with arsenic (As), benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), vinyl chloride, phenolic compounds, copper (Cu), dichloromethane, tin (Sn), ethylbenzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, petroleum hydrocarbons C10 to C50, phthalates (all of them), lead (Pb), styrene, toluene, trichloro-1,1,1 ethane, xylenes (o,m,p) and zinc (Zn).

The land will be difficult to clean up. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation tracked the many pollutants transferred and released from this site until it closed in 2007 via their Taking Stock database. “Once contamination reaches sources of drinking water, it can be extremely difficult to treat or remove,” said Marco Antonio Heredia Fragoso, the CEC Program Manager for Environmental Law.

Yet Montreal has set aside this site for purchase on June 18, 2010, in decision number 1104422001.

The city has not yet determined whether it will pay for decontamination prior to purchase, or if the owners will be responsible for decontaminating the site prior to a purchase taking place.

City spokesperson Renee Pageau wrote back that there hasn’t yet been a decision in this regard. “We are still in negotiation with the owners. The land remains set aside for another year.”

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